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A Cause for Concern: How terrible November Mustaches raise awareness for Men's Health

  • Published
  • By Mr. Steven Conklin
  • 142nd Wing / Public Affairs

It was a brisk late-fall morning at the Portland Air National Guard Base for the hundreds of clean-shaven faces which belonged to the Airmen who work here every day.

But for me, a government civilian, I had a smug little smirk hidden behind a modest beard which I had been nurturing for about a month—it kept my face toasty against the fall chill—but my grin would fall empty as the November drill weekend fast approached.

November, much like March, is a month dreaded by countless military spouses. “No-shave Nofizzle” is what nobody calls it, and it’s an opportunity for the brave men and women (but mostly men) of the
world’s finest military to grow the world’s finest mustaches.

To be honest though, rare are the mustaches that can demand the authority of Ron Swanson. Instead, the rank and file are typically infiltrated by meager fur babies you’d expect to rest on the face of Ed
Sheeran.

Personally, I believe my mustache gives off less a vibe of Tom Selleck and more Steve Buscemi. This brings me to the point of this essay: why do honorable service members submit themselves and their families (and to some extent their coworkers) to such shame, year after year?

During a long and rigorous investigation which took more than three entire minutes of expert internet research, I found what scholars may or may not have searched for centuries to find, yet continues to evade them.

In 1998, Brendan Fraser was on the set of The Mummy, which would prove to become a successful franchise for years to come. 5 years later in 2003, half-way across the world, two college kids were on a mission.

Travis Garone and Luke Slattery of Australia spearheaded an endeavor the likes of which had never been seen. The mother of a friend of theirs had been diligently working to raise funds for breast cancer awareness.

Inspired, they got to work on a campaign to bring awareness to prostate and other male specific cancers.

Clearly, mustaches were the only logical choice to make this happen. It started out as an email chain, and grew to what we know today.

The goal of the movement is to start conversations around health issues affecting men, including specific cancers. The mustaches are grown and proudly displayed throughout the month because it’s something that many cancer patients lose during treatment.

No shave-November, also known as Movember, is not a strictly military tradition. At its heart, it’s an opportunity for men to abstain from shaving their entire face for the month while supporting a noble cause.

But due to military regulations, our armed forces are authorized to sport only a subjectively bad mustache. Once science finally catches up to the 21st century and develops a way to measure a mustaches’ attractiveness, I will appropriately label them objectively bad.

2022 can be marked as a year of revival for the mustache, after two years of mandated mask-wearing due to the pandemic. While we did our due diligence to lessen the spread of the virus, mustaches cross the military were hidden from the public eye.

No longer could men expose their glorious achievements in public, their face masks kept it all hidden.

But on the backside, as America victoriously persevered the virus, the mustaches came out into the light like Noah after the flood. The reemergence of the mustache was, in a word, glorious.

This year’s mustaches far surpassed the glory and prestige of the Air and Space Force mustaches of the past.

In May, Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of U.S. Air and Space Force personnel, was updated. Now, Airmen had the right to grow their lip-warmers one quarter of an inch past the corner of their mouth horizontally. That equates to an entire half inch of extra mustache.

Mustache scholars will likely refer to this as the dawning of a new age.
With November drawing toward an inevitable end here in Portland, I find myself surrounded by prickly upper lips as I skulk through the halls at work.

Just this morning, whilst browsing the building for fellow
Airmen sporting top-notch mustaches, I asked the owner of one fine specimen in a completely professional and un-awkward fashion, “I’m not being weird, but can I have a photo of your ‘stache?”

“Well of course, I suppose I can get this bad boy ready for a photo shoot,” replied Col. Christopher Lantagne, 142nd Wing Vice Commander.

Clearly, there was a sense of pride and accomplishment for his tireless weeks spent growing the artwork canvased below his nose. To further cement his unabashed commitment to this military tradition, he
was quick to defend his growth when I insinuated certain features added to its creep-value.

“I prefer to think of it as mystique,” he rebuked.